Siege Mentality

Circled round our crumbling walls,
a cruel enemy awaits –
stay indoors, the safety message,
turns to open up the floodgates –
let it rip but raise the drawbridge
every time there’s ups in R rates!

 

Under Siege - Medievalists.net

 

image: Medievalists.net

stimulus: castle from https://randomwordgenerator.com

Statue Strife Buffets Bafflesby

Wednesday

Concern is growing that this coming weekend could see rival groups battling over the bronze statues in Bafflesby Town Square, especially if the weather turns out nice again.

It is feared that the long-standing controversy about who gave our beloved borough its distinctive name may be about to boil over once more. The two candidates face one another, as always, from their respective stone plinths.

Local tradition has it that Bafflesby came from the ancient Briton Barfa, a tribal chieftain best remembered for his spirited but doomed attempt to block Roman road-construction programmes in the area. Ten centuries after his gory demise, when the invading Normans demanded taxes to fund their fancy castles and churches, the legend arose that King Barfa would return from a long sojourn upon the Isle of Aldilidl and rescue his people.

If he ever came back it was unreported and, if he did, it was to no avail. Forced to forget Anglo-Saxon – having long forgotten Latin – we had to learn French instead. But the power of Barfa’s legend persisted and to this very day every protest march on behalf of the unfairly disadvantaged starts at his statue and follows its stern gaze towards whatever wrongs are to be righted, whichever injustices and oppressions must be overthrown.

That gaze appears to rest upon the statue of Sir Basil FFlesby – occasional philanthropist, serial philanderer, gentleman philosopher – who many claim to be Bafflesby’s founding father and originator of its name. He it was who built the magnificent Fflesby Hall – the major visitor-attraction to our town – from the fortune he made ferrying slaves to the cotton and sugar plantations of the New World and carrying the products of their forced labours back to our home markets.

Sir Basil, known simply as Ba to his devoted family, somehow found time to write several books on political economy and also gave his name to Fflesbyism – an unshakeable belief in the innate superiority of the moneyed classes and their natural fitness to rule in perpetuity – a brutalist philosophy which has adherents to this very day, surprisingly many of whom have very little money at all. Fflesbyites who, in other words, could aim for a bigger slice of the cake if they could only bring themselves to be Barfans. But some traditions, it seems, fly in the face of common sense .

So, given that the urge to defend very little is disproportionally powerful, what does not surprise is that trouble can be expected on Bafflesby’s streets this weekend. Shop windows, freshly decked-out for their post-lockdown re-opening, have had to be boarded up. The town council has invested in several coachloads of private security officers who will form human barriers around both monuments to protect Bafflesby’s historic heritage, whatever that happens to be on the day.

We asked town mayor, Councillor Colin ‘Cully’ Culper, for his thoughts on the heightened tension in the town. ‘We are prepared for anything and everything,’ he said with a polished smile, pouring himself a very generous whisky. ‘Strictly by way of celebration,’ he added, downing it in one. ‘I’ve just been told they’ve got the very last strip of duck-tape in place! Same stuff you’re standing behind, as it happens.’

Looking down, we noticed the name Culper running across the carpet in all directions. ‘My brother’s firm makes it,’ said the mayor in reply to our unspoken question, ‘so I know it’s the best damn duck-tape bar none! We’ve used up a whole truck-full dividing the Square into two-metre, um, squares and expect the demonstrators to maintain social distance at all times. Two birds with one stone, you might say, a cheep way to keep both virus and violence at bay – if you’ll pardon the pun! And then, if anything does go wrong, those fake newspapers can’t say it was our fault. Well, they can but they won’t make it stick – unlike Culper duck-tape, if you’ll allow a cheeky advert. Press freedom, my arse! Present company excepted, of course, you guys are a beacon of truth in a fog of lies.’

Clearly delighted with his poetic turns of phrase, Mayor Culper poured himself another large drink and waved the decanter in our direction. A little intimidated by all the family duck-tape, we declined. Did he, by any chance, have a personal preference in the town-name controversy? He shook his head slowly.

‘Strictly neutral, of course, but between you and me they’re barfing up the wrong tree with that Barka chappie. Know what I mean, all that people about him being a man of the piffle? What I heard was old Barfa develops a taste for plundered prosecco and Roman slave-girls and ends up in a designer villa with natty hypocausts and naughty floor-tiles and the whirl’s first-ever worldpool bubble-bath. So much for da great rebel hero, yeah? Not exactly a martyr to victimhood, was he? No, you won’t find it on Widipekia, that’s local knowledge! Handed down by word of mouth, see? Do yourself a favour when the pubs open up again and get yourself down The Dancing Bear. Ask anyone in there, come closing-time, and they’ll tell you all about bloody Barfa!’

The mayor went on to deny he was a closet Fflesbyite, as some had suggested, dismissing such claims as the politics of envy. ‘And, anyway, I no longer need to make money,’ he added, ‘because nowadays my money makes money for me!’ Ethical investments, we wondered? Now you’re talking political correctness,‘ he laughed, ‘so all I’ll say about my investments is that they’re certainly right for me!’

We wished him continued good luck for the weekend. ‘May the best man win,’ he grinned, ‘or woman! Wouldn’t want the equal-opportunity brigade breaching my social distance, now, would I? Oh, that reminds me, do you need any duck-tape?’

 

Thursday

An incredible sight greeted Bafflesby street-cleaner Hugh Broom (64) early yesterday morning when two bronze statues scheduled for bird-dropping removal in preparation for the large public gathering expected this weekend were not where he expected them to be. Instead, he found two empty plinths. ‘I gave them a bit of a tidy,’ he later commented, ‘but it wasn’t really the same, was it? You just do your job to the best of your ability, I suppose, come what may. On the plus side, it did give me a bit more time to clear all that loose duck-tape out of the drains so there won’t be another flood if it pisses it down. I think the weather forecast is quite good for Saturday but you never know in this country, do you? I mean, what kind of idiot buys duck-tape that doesn’t stick? Some faceless pen-pusher, no doubt, what gets off scot-free while the likes of you and me get it in the neck every bloody time! Writing this down, are you? That’s Hugh with a gee aitch …’

A police spokesman confirmed that they were making inquiries into the statue disappearances. It was also hoped that people would stay away from Bafflesby Town Square on Saturday morning as there will be very little, if anything, to see.

 

Friday

In what amounts to a worldwide scoop for this newspaper, we are delighted to report that we have tracked down the missing statues to the secluded garden of a Bafflesby home. Sensational news of their whereabouts came as a 71 year-old sculptor, Polly Tapping, walked into our office late yesterday afternoon and said she wanted to make a clean breast of her crimes.

Our first thought was that Polly had mistaken us for the police station but she soon made it clear she wanted a much wider audience. She preferred to talk in her back garden, she said, and was happy for us to make a recording. What follows is an unedited transcript of our conversation:

  • Hello, Polly, how on earth did you manage to remove the statues?
  • Brute force and ignorance, I suppose, with some help from an industrial metal cutter!
  • Did you have any help?
  • That’d be telling, wouldn’t it? But I’m not on the scrapheap just yet, you know!
  • Were you aware trouble was expected in Bafflesby this weekend?
  • Yes, I overheard two people talking about it. I was working here as usual and their voices came floating over that big hedge. No statue is worth fighting over.
  • Your garden is a very private place, isn’t it?
  • Oh yes, ideal for a pet project like mine. Though it is rather crowded now, don’t you think, with Barfa and Basil? And I’ve not even started their history plaques yet …
  • Yeah, maybe time to describe what we can see here – phew, where to start? OK, Polly’s garden is full of life-size effigies. Wood, stone and metal. I recognise quite a few famous figures and …
  • Only a few?
  • Well, quite a few! Lots of them, really …
  • Don’t worry, I struggle with faces! They’re a work in progress.
  • But this must be the work of a lifetime!
  • Some call it a hobby. Others call it an obsession. I call it a homage. Every single person represented here has a story to tell us, which is the whole point of all those big plaques. Half the work is researching and constructing those, which is why so many of the likenesses are incomplete. For some reason I have to wait for the story before I can get the expressions. The history is the mystery, you might say. Never mind, I’m only 71 …
  • Is that why you took the statues – because you wanted to add their history?
  • Well, you don’t want people fighting over figments of imagination. Besides, they complete my collection. I’m ready for the Grand Opening, or I will be by tomorrow, which is where you come in.
  • The Bafflesby Bugle?
  • Look up there! I want you to trumpet my true exhibition of Bafflesby history over those hills and far away. We open 8am Saturday, last entry 8pm. Numbers limited to ensure social distance. Put it through every letterbox. Hire one of those dreadful loudspeaker cars, if you must.
  • Sure, no problem, online too! Only …
  • Only there is a problem. Oh dear!
  • No, no, it’s just … these figures of yours from all round the world … won’t people wonder why on earth they feature in a history of this little town?
  • Of course they will. And when they read the plaques, they’ll find out. Every single statue has some local connection. Let them discover how much more there is to their town than whether it got its name from this or that local bandit. Nobody really lives in Bafflesby, you know, who doesn’t also live in the world with all her myriad beauties and terrors and wonders. Imagination can take you anywhere, everywhere, even into the heart of your worst enemy. But if they still want a fight, tell them the town was named after the River Baffle – so-called because of its infuriating tendency to meander. I haven’t lost you, have I?
  • No, I’m still baffled by Nelson Mandela’s local link.
  • His autobiography outsold everything else in Bafflesby Books for a whole week in the summer of 1994, I think it was. Some local schoolkids had written to him and got a lovely letter back, which may have helped sales of the book. I was their teacher.
  • That must have been gratifying. 
  • Mandela was my very first statue. I’m gratified you recognised him.
  • The shirt was a giveaway.
  • Oh …
  • And the plaque.
  • Well, there you are, then! Knowledge is power.
  • How about Barfa and Basil? Will their plaques be ready by Saturday morning?
  • No, but I’ll cobble something together. Did I just say that out loud?
  • Loud and clear!
  • Finishing anything is a problem when you’re a perfectionist. Sometimes you have to seize the time – or else, a couple of old statues! Do you think anyone will come to see them?
  • You’ll have them queueing round the block.
  • Oh, that’s a worry! Only two of us here and the garden looks crowded. I haven’t any duck-tape.
  • Worry not, I know a man who has. Anyway, there’s a much bigger audience online …
  • Oh yes, I keep forgetting all that. Funny to think it’s just been my little secret up to now! Barfa and Basil have a lot to answer for.
  • I’m sure you’ll help them tell their story, Polly. 

 

Tuesday

Business returned to Bafflesby yesterday as shops opened their doors to customers for the first time since lockdown. Mayor Culper was keen to take full credit for the queueing system in the Town Square, where the two-metre rule was enforced by a large quantity of duck-tape. ‘It just goes to show the value of getting ahead of the game,’ he commented, perhaps mindful of the widespread criticism that he tended to take action after an event and only jumped on a bandwagon when other people had pointed it out to him. ‘And tomorrow,’ he promised, ‘I am going to present Polly Tapping with the keys to the kingdom, as we call Bafflesby round here.’

 

What are the Keys to the Kingdom? Biblical Meaning & Understanding

Universal Cure

While writing my previous post, I hit this link to https://randomwordgenerator.com just to check that it worked and noticed – nowt wrong with my eyesight, see? – a fresh word on display.

Try it. Never the same word twice. This time it was miracle, a gift horse I couldn’t look in the mouth even though I’d only just dismounted the last one.

My mum, wedded to wise saws and sayings, used to say I could never leave well enough alone and – guess what? – she was right. Mums often are. And unlike my dad she had no time for ‘enlightened self-interest’, regarding it as a respectable mask for greed and selfishness, so this one is for her:

My prayer falls on deafened ears 
if hardened hearts are everywhere 
refusing shelter from the storm 
and finding new ways not to care -
charity may start at home - 
leave it there to die alone -
export it and the world's your own.

 

symbol of kindness | Kindness symbol, Symbols, Kindness

 

image: Pinterest

Own goal!

My latest visit to https://randomwordgenerator.com netted bin. So thinking about what one could put into a bin, or rather, into an acrostic poem based on the word … yes, wouldn’t it be great to dump the virus but – failing that miracle – maybe dream instead of binning politicians who took their eyes off the ball?

 

Britannia waives the rules, reacts too late.
Invisible, her foe sneaks through the gate.
Now every plan has passed its use-by date.

 

That’s not bad, I suppose, but nobody ever described the feeling of ‘if only’ better than the poet Philip Larkin so I’ll leave the last word to him:

 

As Bad As A Mile

Watching the shied core
Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,
Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

Of failure spreading back up the arm
Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,
The apple unbitten in the palm.

 

Buy Round Wicker Waste Paper Bins online from The Basket Company

 

image: The Basket Company

Life’s A Beach!

This newspaper – unlike far too many others in these trying times – has a firm policy of seeking out good-news stories. We are therefore pleased to report an overwhelming consensus of opinion amongst Bafflesby residents that the huge influx of visitors to Baffle Bay over the weekend was a disgrace or an outrage or even, to several people we canvassed, a disgrace and an outrage. Such a measure of agreement has, alas, been rare in recent years and any cessation of local hostilities – however temporary – is surely to be welcomed.

It seems that most of these sun-worshippers were, as Bafflesby folk might put it, ‘not from round here’. Why else would they not have read and heeded our clear and unequivocal warning in last Wednesday’s edition, also published on the Come to Beautiful Bafflesby webpage?

Our usual warm welcome to Baffle Bay and its wonderful, world-famous seven-mile stretch of soft sands and rolling dunes with the elegant River Baffle gliding majestically past the historic walls and quaint quays of Old Bafflesby Town into that glorious estuary with its unforgettable views is on hold this weekend as some facilities will be closed.

For whatever reason, this message didn’t appear to get through. There they were, in their hundreds and even thousands, sweltering in the sunshine while contributing very little to the local economy. To find out why, we sent our roving reporter to the beach with his voice-recorder on a high setting to pick up sounds two metres away.

Coronavirus: Resort locals 'shocked and angry' at beach crowds ...

What follows is a faithful transcript of his recorded conversations:

  • Hello, sir, may I ask what brings you here today?
  • Car, mate! Thought I’d test my eyesight with a short drive.
  • Was that wise?
  • Calm down, matey, just a little joke! Hey, you a policeman?
  • Newspaper reporter …
  • Liar!
  • No, I am!
  • Yeah, I believe you. That’s why I called you a liar.
  • Well, sir, anything you say here will be faithfully reported.
  • Taken down in evidence and used against me, more like! I know your game! You’ll twist my words to make me sound ridiculous!
  • That won’t be necessary, sir, have a nice day! Good morning, madam, enjoying your day out?
  • Well, we would be if it wasn’t for all these people. We came expecting a deserted beach like that fantastic photo on Come to Beautiful Bafflesby. They’ve got us here under false pretences.
  • Are you thinking of packing up early?
  • No way! We were here first. And if you’re from the town council, get your tape measure out. None of these are keeping their social distance.
  • I think your dog might deter them from coming much closer. Didn’t you see all those NO DOGS signs back there?
  • Don’t care, seen a person walking their dog along this beach when it was deserted.
  • I reckon that fantastic photo was taken in winter. 
  • Never mind trying to be clever, young man, you want to start measuring the gaps between people round those toilets up there.
  • Right, yeah, thanks for the heads up. Have a nice day!
  • Fat chance of that, you chump! Get down, Buster!
  • So, heading up the beach to the promenade now, can’t see any public conveniences but there’s a big queue for the ice-cream van. Excuse me, my friend, would you mind me asking you a few questions?
  • Buy me a Magnum and I’m anybody’s!
  • Er, sure thing, no problem … so aren’t you worried about catching the virus in a great big crowd like this?
  • Stay alert. That’s what they tell you. Keep a sharp look-out.
  • What for?
  • Well, er, people who cough. Or sweat. The shiny ones could be running a temperature.
  • What if they’re asymptomatic?
  • Whoa, yeah, you really got to steer clear of those!
  • But how would you … ?
  • Know where it’s safe? Let me tell you. Safest place is right here!
  • You mean, queueing for an … ?
  • Ice cream, exactly. One thing you know for sure about the people in this queue is that they haven’t lost their sense of taste or smell.
  • That’s two things.
  • Even better!
  • What if they’re only queueing for a friend?
  • Hmm, that is actually a very good question … You’re not as daft as you look … Listen, if you really are buying, why not take my place in the queue? Maybe buy something for yourself …
  • Actually, I’m not very hungry.
  • Know what? Me neither! Bet they don’t have Magnums, anyway. See you!
  • Er, ‘bye! OK, going back down on the beach now, seems even more crowded. Thing is, the people sitting or reclining might be two metres apart but walking around is bound to bring you much closer, even if you try your best to maintain an equidistant line between them and … whoops! Sorry, was this somebody’s sandcastle?
  • That’s my little daughter’s, that is, took ages to build!
  • Oh dear, will she be very disappointed?
  • She won’t give a monkey’s, pal, because the hard labour was all mine!
  • That’s good, well, not good but … don’t know why I didn’t spot it, really, with all those patriotic flags stuck in it!
  • know why. You was talking to yourself.
  • Yes, I’m a rep…
  • First sign of madness, they say, that and obsessive handwashing.
  • Well, everybody’s washing their hands more these days, aren’t they? 
  • Oh yes?
  • Singing Happy Birthday twice and all of that, er, silly stuff …
  • You reckon?
  • Come on, you can’t turn on the telly without …
  • Stop right there, pal, stop right there! Open up your true senses to the hidden truth. The reason you talk to yourself and can’t stop washing your hands is they got you brainwashed.
  • Who?
  • Exactly. Nobody knows. All we can do is stay well away from their beacons of transmission.
  • Beacons of …
  • Look around you. What can you see?
  • Hundreds of people all trying to …
  • Forget them for a moment. Lift your eyes to the hills. What can you see?
  • Well, lots of trees and a couple of phone masts, if that’s what you …
  • Been asking myself all morning if they’re 5G masts.
  • Have you?
  • Have I come up with an answer? The answer is Yes.
  • They’re 5G masts?
  • Keep up, pal! Yes, I have come up with an answer. The answer is No.
  • They’re not 5G masts?
  • Correct. Hardly be worth their while, would it, half their signal going out to sea? No, they’re only interested in 360 degrees. That way they get maximum virus transmission.
  • Coronavirus? 
  • Welcome aboard, pal, better late than never!
  • You catch Covid-19 from people, not machines.
  • Ever heard of computer viruses? The clue’s in the etymology.
  • But a computer virus is just a metaphor.
  • It can make your laptop very poorly.
  • That’s just another metaphor!
  • No smoke without fire.
  • OK, if we’re doing proverbs, a little learning is a dangerous thing.
  • You know your trouble, pal?
  • Too clever by half? 
  • I’d say that was an underestimate. Actually, your problem is that you believe everything you’re told by so-called experts.
  • You mean, like, stay away from crowded beaches?
  • That kind of nonsense, yes, interfering with our natural instinct to assemble wherever 5G emanations are at their weakest. You never heard of herd impunity? Learn to trust the evidence of your eyes, pal. Do any of these people look sick?
  • Not yet, I have to say. Well, nice talking to you. Please convey my apologies to your daughter for the, you know, sandcastle. 
  • Lucky I sent her a photo of it before you went and wrecked it, then, wasn’t I?
  • She isn’t here?
  • Lives with her mum in Western Australia. I’d Skype them if the broadband round here ever got up to speed.
  • But isn’t that where 5G could … ?
  • Don’t start, pal!

As we said at the start, this newspaper is committed to publishing positive and uplifting stories in difficult times. One such story we hope to bring you in future weeks and months is that our esteemed national government, guided at all times – as it so frequently reminds us – by the science, will be in a position to enlighten ordinary citizens like those who were interviewed above as to the precise scientific principles and practices that have so successfully informed its every action.

The Bafflesby Bugle

 

image: BBC.com